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Sarasota Wednesday, Jul. 21, 2010 5 years ago

Commissioners debate police budget

by: Robin Roy City Editor

During the second-day of a two-day city budget workshop, commissioners analyzed the Sarasota Police Department’s proposed budget for 2011.

Some commissioners questioned why the Sarasota’s police budget, $26 million next year, was so much higher than the police budgets in Bradenton and North Port.

Bradenton’s 2010 police budget is about $12 million, and North Port’s projected budget for 2011 is $13 million.

The reason, according to Capt. Paul Sutton, is because Sarasota’s police are busier. Sarasota has 176 sworn officers. That’s 34% more than Bradenton and 71% more than North Port.

Sutton presented Florida Department of Law Enforcement statistics from 2007 to 2009 that showed Sarasota police responded to 35% more crime and made 69% more arrests than Bradenton police officers.

The comparison to North Port showed an even greater difference. The Sarasota Police Department investigated 125% more criminal acts and made 324% more arrests than North Port police.

Commissioner Dick Clapp said he wants Sarasota to have its own law enforcement, but he has heard some citizens ask why the city doesn’t ask the sheriff’s office to absorb the police department so the city can save that $26 million.

Commissioner Terry Turner said the city likely wouldsee a drop in the level of service, because the sheriff’s office has 1.7 officers per 1,000 people and the police department has 3.3 officers per 1,000.

Turner said city residents would have to pay the sheriff’s office more to get the same service it now has, so there would probably be no cost savings in the end.

Contact Robin Roy at [email protected].

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